NGO STATEMENT AND PLAN OF ACTION
FOR THE UNITED NATIONS NGO MEETING IN SOLIDARITY
WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE


1. We NGOs from around the world gathered together in Nicosia, Cyprus, at a moment of grave peril for the Palestinian people. Over the past eight weeks Israel and its military forces have systematically destroyed the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian economic, political, social, religious and health care infrastructure and crippled its ability to offer essential services to its people. The full extent of the trauma and casualties suffered by the people is yet to be discovered, but the consequences for Palestinian men, women and children are extreme.
2. Our Meeting takes place when, after Colin Powell's failed mission to the Middle East, Sharon government re-launches and aggravates its criminal aggression against the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian People. We underline the responsibility of Bush Administration in the present, most dangerous turn of events and escalation of war in Middle East. We consider the stand of the European Union so far in this regard as insufficient. The EU must take a coherent, effective and independent stand. We appeal to Arab governments to take much stronger and concrete measures on support of the Palestinian People and the Palestinian Authority.
 

3. The denial of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and the continued occupation and aggression were and remain at the root of injustices and violence. We condemn this Israeli occupation and all its policies.
 

4. The importance of international presence and protection of the Palestinian civilian population in the occupied Palestinian territories cannot be overestimated. As NGOs we pledge to utilize all of our resources, contacts and strategies to augment public awareness of life for Palestinians "on the ground" in Palestine. We salute and express our thanks and solidarity with all the NGOs currently assisting Palestinians on the ground in Palestine and those who are denied entry into the occupied Palestinian Territory.
 

5. We call for the full implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1397, 1402 and 1403 as a global response to the political and humanitarian crisis in Palestine that is now only beginning to be fully understood. The international community must stop allowing Israel to be treated as a state above international law, human rights and values.
 

6. We NGOs express our continuing support for the elected Palestinian leadership. We call for the immediate lifting of the siege of Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority's headquarters.
 

7. The Israeli occupation itself is an act of continuing violence against Palestinians, and it must end now. Therefore, we support the right of the Palestinian people to resist the brutal Israeli occupation and protect themselves and their children, according to the international law and regulations. Only the end of occupation and aggression can bring about the end of this tragic and senseless loss of the lives of so many innocent civilians.
8. We note with considerable interest the increasing NGO work worldwide in response to the invasion of the West Bank. We urge the UN to make renewed efforts to collaborate with NGOs active worldwide in order to enhance global coordination of their efforts and effective dissemination of information about their activities.
 

9. As fellow NGOs we note with appreciation the efforts of the Israeli peace movement and the central role of women in the NGO movement in support of Palestine. We acknowledge those Israeli soldiers and reservists who refuse to take part in the aggression against the Palestinian population.
 

10. We urge all international NGOs to work together with their counterparts in the USA to mobilize world public opinion to demand from Bush Administration that it cease its support to Sharon government in its policy of war, terror and annihilation of the Palestinian people and of the Palestinian authority.
11. We mobilize our collective efforts on behalf of the Palestinian people, as we have done since 1983, on the basis of relevant UN resolutions, among them 181, 194, 242, 338, 1397, 1402 and 1403. We remain convinced that these resolutions offer the clearest pathway to a true and lasting peace for all in the region.
 

12. We acknowledge the results of the United Nations International Meeting In Support of Middle East Peace held in Nicosia 16 and 17 April 2002. We urge the United Nations and its member states to do much more and focus on action to protect the people.
Drawing attention to the attached NGO Appeal presented to the United Nations International Meeting in Support of Peace in the Middle East held in Nicosia, Cyprus, 16-17 April 2002, we consider it to be a complementary part of the following Plan of Action.
 

The Plan of Action:
a. We call for the immediate withdrawal of all Israeli forces from Palestinian towns, villages and camps as well as from all occupied territories to the border of 1967. We urge the US government to apply its influence with the government of Israel to bring about immediate compliance.
b. We call for the immediate establishment on an international presence on the ground in the West Bank and Gaza to protect the civilian population and to provide independent observation of the situation there and to submit their reports to the international community via the United Nations.

c. We unanimously urge that any international conference or negotiations on the Middle East must include official Palestinian Authority representation headed by its president, Yassir Arafat.
 

d. We call for relief, rehabilitation and development assistance in all its forms to be extended by the international community to the Palestine Authority and to the Palestinian people as soon as possible.
e. We are particularly concerned about UNRWA, ICRC and other humanitarian agencies. NGOs, Palestinian, Israeli and international, all agree that there should be a concerted international government campaign to support UNRWA and other agencies in the aftermath of Israeli destruction of its ability to assist the Palestinian people.
 

f. We hold the Israeli government responsible for the suffering and deprivation of the Palestinian people under occupation. Israel must pay reparations for all damages inflicted on Palestinian people and property.
 

g. We call on all NGOs to mobilize their governments and public opinion in solidarity with the Palestinian people. We call for renewed and increased public demonstrations in countries around the world in support of the Palestinian people, in front of the Israeli and US embassies. We urge the international community, including governments and NGOs, to extend every material and humanitarian assistance to the people of Palestine in this hour of critical need.
 

h. We call upon all governments, international bodies and civil society organizations to exert pressure on the government of Israel to induce to end the occupation and aggression against the Palestinian people. This pressure includes arms embargo and sanctions on trade, sports and cultural links.
i. We recognize the importance of public information campaigns in the USA and other countries to favourably impact pubic opinion. Therefore, we will use our network contacts to share useful and effective information for public dissemination through the media and our organizations. The focus should be on "making the Occupation visible" and "perspectives on the Israeli invasion of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip".
j. We call on all communities ,especially religious communities and institutions, to rise in moral indignation against the atrocities committed against the Palestinian people.
 

k. As NGOs active on the question of Palestine, we urge UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to visit Palestine soon and to urge the international community to assist the Palestinian people. The UN should use all means to ensure implementation of all resolutions relating to the inalienable rights of the Palestinian People.
 

l. We re-issue our request articulated in Madrid in July 2001 for a United Nations International NGO Meeting on the Protection of the Palestinian people and supporting the Palestinian cause. This meeting is important and would allow NGOs to concentrate on this one aspect of their mutual collaboration as well as their interaction with the UN. We ask that the UN and other organizations financially assist NGOs to participate in order to ensure broad representation of the international NGO community active on the question of Palestine

m. We appeal to the world media to be more supportive of justice, freedom and peace, and stand by the victims and the oppressed.

WE NGOs present at the Nicosia meeting express our sincere appreciation to the United Nations Committee and Division for hosting the meeting. We thank the Government and people of Cyprus for their memorable hospitality. On this occasion we extend to the people of Cyprus our NGO support for a peaceful solution of the Cypriot problem based on relevant UN resolutions in the interests of peace and stability in the region.
 

Nicosia, 18 April 2002

***